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GENERAL NEWS

Running out of gas: Soaring demand outpaces production

USA. - The natural gas industry faces a year of conflicting extremes in 2004.

Houston-based and multinational energy companies will pursue a number of extremely huge exploration and production projects in the Gulf of Mexico

But the amount of natural gas they supply, although substantial, will be woefully inadequate to offset a U.S. production rate that continues to dwindle at an extremely rapid pace.

And events like the freezing cold snap that hit much of the country in December and caused gas prices to spike 50 percent only represent the tip of the iceberg.

This bleak assessment of the disparity between expanding production and shrinking supply comes from Houston energy guru Matthew Simmons.

The president of Simmons & Co. International, an energy investment bank, believes the United States faces a serious natural gas crisis that could have a devastating impact on the national economy.

And Simmons is not alone...

CONTRACT AWARDS

VisualSoft Win 2 Snamprogetti Digital Video Pipeline Inspection Projects

ginamc writes:  

VisualSoft are delighted to announce that the VisualWorks digital video system will be used to acquire digital video for the TMPC and Bluestream pipeline inspection projects during January/February 2004. The 760km TMPC inspection will be performed by Fugro Survey Ltd using the Skandi Inspector and is expected to take 30 days to complete.

The inspection of the 2x24" 300km Bluestream pipelines across the Black Sea in water depths of up 2100m to will be performed by DeepOcean's new survey vessel Edda Fonn and a Stealth ROV: the expected survey duration is also 30 days.

VisualSoft Ltd have completed an upgrade of the VisualWorks system to enable encoding of mpeg-2 video to the Snamprogetti specification. This further enhances the capabilities of the VisualWorks system and provides clients with the option to select from a variety of industry standard video encoding formats.

These contracts further establish VisualWorks as the world's leading digital video system for subsea inspection surveys.

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Source: VisualSoft Ltd.
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MONTHLY PUZZLE

January 2004's Monthly Puzzle

Test your geography....

"At the Airport"

A young man about to take off in his private super-jet spotted a pretty girl on the concourse.
"Hi, did you miss your flight?" he asked.
"Yes, and now I am stranded here for a few more days."
"I'd be glad to give you a lift," he offered.
"But," she replied, "you don't even know where I'm going!"
"It doesn't matter. I can take you there without going out of my way more than a few miles."

Naturally, the girl thought this was a fresh young man with a new line, and she refused his offer until he had told her where he was headed. She then realised he had been telling the truth and went with him.

Given that this sequence of events happened at the airport in Perth, Australia, can you say where the young man was heading?


Note:

Please add responses to this puzzle via comments.
The solution, along with the members usernames that cracked it, will be added to Read More... at the end of the month.

ROV NEWS

Freight vessel with a mainly Filipino crew has capsized off southwestern Nor

mikeritson writes:  

This vessel had the EB rockdumping ROV on board!

OSLO (Reuters) - A freight vessel with a mainly Filipino crew has capsized off southwestern Norway and at least two seamen have been killed and 19 are missing, some of them trapped within the vessel, rescue officials say.

Boats and helicopters picked up nine survivors and were scouring the sea around the upturned vessel "Rocknes" near the western port of Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for southern Norway said on Monday.

ONSHORE NEWS

Bosses at Underweater Centre Prepare to put Buyout Offer to the Receivers

ginamc writes:  Management at the Underwater Centre and the £2.5million Ocean Frontier tourist attraction at Fort William hope a buyout can save the troubled enterprise from going under.

The centres, which have gone into receivership, have debts of more than £3million.

The buyout move was confirmed yesterday by a member of the management team, who said an offer was being prepared for submission to the receivers.

Managing director Don McGregor declined to comment but joint receiver Blair Nimmo, of KPMG, said: "Mr McGregor remains interested in becoming involved and his interest has been noted."

SCIENCE & TECH NEWS

NASA Spacecraft Makes Great Catch ## Heads for Touchdown

jamesmc writes:  

Team Stardust, NASA's first dedicated sample return mission to a comet, passed a huge milestone today by successfully navigating through the particle and gas-laden coma around comet Wild 2 -pronounced "Vilt-2". During the hazardous traverse, the spacecraft flew within 240 kilometers, 149 miles, of the comet, catching samples of comet particles and scoring detailed pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface.


Comet Wild 2 is shown in this image taken by the Stardust navigation camera during the spacecraft's closest approach to the comet on January 2. The image was taken within a distance of 500 kilometers, about 311 miles, of the comet's nucleus with a 10-millisecond exposure. A total of 72 images were taken of the comet during the flyby. More images, which may be of higher resolution and greater detail, will be transmitted to Earth on Saturday. Photo Credits: NASA-JPL.

SCIENCE & TECH NEWS

Robot scientist outperforms humans in lab

ginamc writes:  

An intelligent robot that could free genomics researchers from routine lab chores has proven as effective as a human scientist. The robot not only performs genetics experiments, it also decides which ones to do, interprets the results and comes up with new hypotheses.

Fields such as genomics are crying out for better and more intelligent automation because they are generating data much faster than it can be analysed. Stephen Muggleton, a computer scientist at Imperial College London, UK, and a member of the team that developed the system, says that scientists in genomics are becoming overwhelmed. Data is increasing almost exponentially, he adds, making more automation inevitable.

Now, Muggleton and his colleagues report how their machine, which they call Robot Scientist, fared when set a typical genomics task - to determine the function of a set of genes in brewer's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

ONSHORE NEWS

Technip Expects Profits Rise Despite Tax Hit

ginamc writes:  Technip, the engineering giant, warned investors yesterday that its results for 2003, due on February 26, would be hit by an "abnormally high" tax rate.

The group otherwise expects revenues to be ahead 5% and earnings up 10%, with pre-tax income expected to rise by at least 25%.

The Paris-based group, which employs 19,000 worldwide, also said its offshore arm had experienced a significant increase in orders in 2003. It gained around £2.4billion in new orders, twice the 2002 amount.

The onshore and downstream branch was again successful in 2003, maintaining a high level of new contract awards, currently estimated at £1.79billion.

Overall, Technip forecasts a strong improvement in both the top and bottom lines in 2004, with growth compared to the last published full-year accounts for 2002 in excess of 15% for revenues, 25% for operating income, and 45% for pre-goodwill income.

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Source: The Press & Journal
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ONSHORE NEWS

North Sea Action Call To McConnell

ginamc writes:  North-east Labour MSP Richard Baker is to quiz First Minister Jack McConnell today in the Scottish Parliament on what action the Scottish Executive is taking to retain oil jobs in the region.

Mr Baker, vice-convener of Holyrood's cross-party oil and gas group, said yesterday he was raising the issue following the Press and Journal's exclusive report last week that almost 300 jobs would be lost at offshore survey company Fugro and oil giant Total in Aberdeen.

His question has been selected to be asked during First Minister's question time in parliament at noon. Mr Baker will also refer to yesterday's report in the P &J in which the UK Offshore Operators' Association said there was a three-year deadline for action to be taken to halt a dramatic decline in North Sea production

OFFSHORE NEWS

North Sea Investment Holds Strong Despite Fresh Challenges to Competitivenes

benny writes:  

Despite rising investment, mounting unit costs and declining production volumes mean that UK offshore oil and gas producers have a two to three year window of opportunity to contain the rate of decline in the North Sea.

Urgent action by all stakeholders, including Government, is required to increase investment in marginally economic fields, maximise the recovery of reserves in producing (brown) fields and stimulate the exploration and appraisal activity that is essential for future production. The increasing regulatory burden must also be addressed.


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